THON in the eyes of an Australian

The Underground talked to exchange student James Virth – here for the spring semester – about his THON experiences.

20 hours into THON 2017 (24 if you count waiting in line), James Virth is committed to staying the full 46 hours. It’s will be the longest fundraiser event he’s ever attended. ‘I know this is gonna be my only opportunity to participate in something like this on exchange. So I wanna make the most of it. Also, I’m, like, really stubborn, and I wanna prove that I can do it, to myself… Cancer’s really touched my family too, so there’s a lot of personal stuff that goes with it.’

He points out that Australia has nothing that even compares to the impressive oddity that is THON. ‘Nothing student-run. Nothing – obviously we have fundraisers and stuff – but nothing on this scale, like raising this much money, with this much involvement.’ Continuing, ‘I like how committed Americans are to this. They’re just committed – with their sports and their fundraisers, they just go for it!’

The weirdest part, he says, is the line dance: ‘there are a lot of American references that don’t really make sense to me! Like, a lot of pop culture stuff that I sort of get, but obviously doesn’t mean the same thing to me as it does to them.’ He’s yet to completely learn the dance, but with 25 more to go, he’s hoping to have it down by the 46-hour mark.

Laughing, he retells a moment a few hours ago, where a performer made a small blunder. ‘She was like – she’d been performing for half an hour – and was like ‘okay everyone, I want you to stand up on your feet for this one!’ And we were like, ‘OKAY, we’ll stand up on our feet, SURE!’ We haven’t been doing that for 16 hours!’

Summing up his time in a single sentence, he laughs, ‘I’m not sure I can do sentences at the moment. Amazing. Inspiring. Like… What are words? Just like, it’s just this amazing thing, there’s just this vibe. Within your org, everyone’s just having a good time. Everyone just feels emotionally connected.’

‘Plus the sleep deprivation has made me really delirious,’ he concludes.